Thursday, January 28, 2010

Goodbye To All That

By Lars Trodson
J.D. Salinger may have been the last post-war American writer left on the scene. Mailer is dead; Schulberg died last year. Styron is gone. Arthur Miller, Tennessee Williams -- gone, gone, gone. The roadside juke joint is closing and the last cigarette has been extinguished. You better drink down that rye, boy, and hit the road. Fast.
The soldier’s uniform, the one left over from The War, stopped fitting long ago, but it was kept in the closet for memory’s sake. But it may just be that no one wants it any more. We’ve got our own war to fight, don’t you know, and sentimentality is getting harder and harder to come by. We’re so connected today that we don’t get a chance to miss those people we knew a long time ago, even if we never liked them and never even talked about them. Can you believe that so-and-so friended you on Facebook?
Gatsby, who turned out all right in the end, had his garden defaced by a mild epithet after he had died, and Holden Caulfield, who admired old Gatsby, the old sport, was offended by the epithet he found at the Museum of Modern Art. Neither word would offend anybody today, and so the most famous literary figure from the post-World War I era and the most famous literary figure from the post-World War II era -- linked by some petty scribble on a wall -- are sinking under our self-imposed 15 minute rule.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Is An Episode Of 'The Shadow' The Real Inspiration Behind The Famous Opening Of The Mercury Theatre’s 'The War Of The Worlds'?

By Lars Trodson

Ever since The Mercury Theatre broadcast its famous version of “The War of the Worlds” in 1938, there has been an ongoing debate over who created the idea of using authentic-sounding news bulletins to build up the story’s suspense.

Who wouldn’t want to take credit for it? Success, as we know, has many fathers.

While the idea of simulated news flashes didn’t originate with The Mercury Theatre, no one had used the idea so effectively before. Several sources of inspiration have been cited over the years, including Archibald MacLeish’s radio drama (written in verse), “Air Raid,” but was it Orson Welles or writer Howard Koch that actually decided to use bulletins to move the story along?

I’ve uncovered an unexpected source of inspiration that may tip the debate over to the Welles side of the ledger, not because he was the originator of the idea but maybe he was the guy who knew how to expand on a good idea he had been involved in for another radio broadcast.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Rare Glimpse at Orson Welles' 'Voodoo Macbeth'

Here's a four-minute clip of Orson Welles' 1936 production of "Macbeth," which he set in 19th-century Haiti. The production, staged with an all-black cast, was held at the Lafayette Theatre by the Federal Theater Project's Negro Unit. It opened on April 14, 1936. More than 10,000 people crowded the street outside the theater on Seventh Avenue, near 131st Street, for 10 blocks, snarling traffic for hours.


For more on the production, click here:


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Congratulations To The Doritos Finalists

But check our ad out, too

Here is our entry into the 2010 Crash the Superbowl contest. It wasn't one of the six finalists, but we're quite proud of it. Let us know what you think.

Late last year a small group of craftspeople took over a home in Dover to shoot a Doritos ad for the company’s annual “Crash the Superbowl” contest. We had looked at past finalists, and many other non-winning entries on YouTube, and knew that Doritos favored a kind of locker-room, male-based physical humor to their spots. This is not a criticism at all -- it plays right into the heart of the demographic watching football, and so it made sense.

It would have also been a smart move on our part to try to mine that vein: The six finalists all feature some of that knockabout, physical humor.

But we took a gentle approach, kind of whimsical, and also thought we’d try out a catch-phrase, “Dude, lid!” that we thought would be appealing. So we made the ad, posted it on the Doritos site, and hoped for the best. We knew, after the comments that were posted (only a few are from people who had anything to do with the making of the ad) and after showing it in public and private showings, that our ad seemed to appeal across all demographics – men, women, kids. We had very, very high hopes.

We learned today that we didn’t make the final top 6 finalists. They are all good ads. I can’t say they are better than ours –- they are certainly not technically better -– but they’re different and will play very well. Congratulations to all the people who created them.

We’re disappointed, but we know the game. But take a moment to watch our ad.

To the Doritos folks, we say: If you’re ever in the market to make an ad with a somewhat different take, please give us a call. We’d be thrilled.

We’d also like the local market in New Hampshire/Maine/Massachusetts that Roundtable Creative is now producing ads for broadcast and the web. Please e-mail us at for rates and availability.

In the meantime, buy Doritos. Great product. Great contest.

Here’s the link to our ad: